Thursday, August 06, 2015

Hilary the Mountaineer!

Well, wasn't *that* an adventure! I duly climbed up Monte Vettore late Monday/early Tuesday. We left the parking area, already high in the Sibillini range above the Piano Grande of Castellucio, at about 11:30 pm and reached the summit at about 4:40 (well, my friend got there about 4:30). The climb up was hard, but coming back down was when I really understood that my knees are much older than my brain.

This is the first time since getting home about lunchtime on Tuesday that I feel able to open my eyes completely. The kitties are very annoyed with me because I ran out of their beloved tinned food yesterday and haven't had the wherewithal to go to the shops, so they've only had dry food since Monday, poor chaps.

My friend dropped me off at home and I forgot in my fog of exhaustion to thank him properly for giving me such an extraordinary experience. I unceremoniously dumped all my stuff in the front hall, had the most perfunctory splash in the bath before falling into bed. And there I more or less stayed until... well, pretty much until this morning.

I'll be working on a Thing about it today.

It looks like this: (my friend's photos will be coming, and will provide proof that I actually did it.)

...At the top it was surreal, like having climbed right out of this world and into another one. What impressed me most, apart from the surreal, dream-like quality of the entire affair, was the silence.
Being August, there was very little wind, and up on the upper slopes there were none of the usual beasties who make up the night time chorus down here. No cicadas, no birds, no insect or any other lively life. So each time we stopped (and yes, it was frequent, thank goodness my friend was very patient) what struck me most was the utter, utter silence, a sound one simply never hears down here in the swamps of dischord we call civilization.

We reached the top under an impossibly brilliant white moon, and by that time we were high enough that it was quite cold, and having done a mountain's worth of exercise, we were damp and there was a bit of wind, enough to create quite a chill. By the time we got to the very, very top, the sky all along the Adriatic horizon was all lighted with a pale, streaky glow. We looked down on the Cities of the Plain, all those towns and villages around Ascoli that are the destination of native Italians for their local holidays. Still, apart from the sounds we made ourselves, talking, setting up camera equipment, taking out snacks, there was no sound at all apart from the wind.

Waiting for the sun as we shivered and made jokes. The Adriatic was all shrouded with fog and the sun took an hour to appear, first as a little streak of brilliant ruby red in the midst of the fog, and then growing to a glowing red disk suspended an inch above the water, but even at that stage becoming hard to look at directly...



Unknown said...

I am impressed. I walked over two miles on flat sidewalks in beautiful perfect temperature weather, and was sore from that!

A Daughter of Mary said...

Lovely, and good for you. Brings back memories of living in Calgary and trekking in the Rockies. Glory to God in the highest! Our world gives us many opportunities to pray a 'Glory Be' no?

James C said...

Brava! At first I was wondering why you were climbing it in the middle of the night, and then I realised---sunrise! There isn't an adequate description for such an exalted sight from that lofty perch.

Did you spot Corno Grande to the south in Abruzzo, the highest point on the peninsula?

Looking forward to seeing photos. Back in March I couldn't decide between climbing Patino or Vettore, so I just randomly picked Patino.

I hope there are more of these on your horizon. It's a slog but the reward is heavenly, like climbing the 'mountain' of holiness.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...


yes, Emanuele wanted to get some photos and video of the sunrise, but also, it's been 35-38 every day for the last six weeks. Trying that in the sun... well... I wouldn't be typing this now. I'd be in hospital.

a Christopher said...

It's funny, but I've always preferred the uphill to the down. Even when driven up to the top, downhill just feels wrong in the joints.

tubbs said...

not the usual Italian vistas in travel brochures...

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

The down was brutal. The up was hard but in a challenging "let's do this, dammit!" kind of way. Down was just a form of medical torture in which I discovered that my knees, specifically the right one, are the oldest part of my body. It took us nearly five hours to get back down and after the second hour I was stepping down sideways keeping the weight on my left leg and lowering my right leg down with the knee held straight. Having learned the extremely hard way that I've got a gammy right knee, I'm going to be googling how to exercise it more to see what can be done. But for the next while, I'm going to be taking on somewhat smaller mountains.

BillyHW said...

You climbed up in the dark?

Did you see any sheep or goats or other animals?

Very impressive.

BillyHW said...

Is it not scary to climb up in the dark?